Division of labor at the household level manifests differently in each individual home. Parents figure out how to balance work, children, and household duties in a manner that suits their family. However, when household labor trends change at a national level, it becomes something to which we should be paying attention. Pew Research recently released a report detailing this shift in family life from a statistical point of view, focusing on two parent, mother/father households.
According to Pew, the share of two parent households in which both parents work now stands at 46%—which is up from 31% in 1970—and has increasingly impacted how home responsibilities are divided. When asked, tasks such as “handling household chores, responsibilities” are viewed as equally shared by 59% of respondents, with 9% stating that the father does more, and 31% stating the mother does more. Disciplining children was an equally shared task by both parents in 61% of households, and playing or doing activities with children was equally shared by both parents, at least according to 64% of respondents. If both parents in the household do not work full time, the division of in-home tasks differs.
The shift in more households having two full-time working parents is not surprising; what is interesting is the potential shift in purchase decision making that could come as a result. How will home responsibilities and decision making be impacted if households with two working parents increase to 60% or 70%? This shift could indicate a need for businesses to reevaluate their marketing strategies and determine how they will speak to this emerging group of working parents who are redistributing the weight of household chores, shopping, and other responsibilities.
Businesses need to better understand the decision making process in these households in order to appeal to and acquire wider audiences. Marketers must make sure that they are able to reach both moms and dads with their messages, and to do that, both moms and dads must be included in their market research. As home responsibilities become more and more shared between mother and father, the traditional “mom shopper” target will require reevaluation. Keeping a pulse on these shifting demographics is essential for businesses and market researchers because representative populations hold the key to successful, actionable insights. As households redefine their traditional roles and responsibilities, businesses will need to reconsider their traditional demographics and marketing strategies.
-Quinten McGruder, Project Director